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To Kalon vs. To Kalon: Constellation files new trademark infringement lawsuit

by Kerana Todorov
January 14, 2020
The Vineyard House and Constellation Brands Inc. have fought in court over the right to use the To Kalon name. Constellation on Friday filed a new complaint against the Napa Valley wine company for alleged trademark infringement. Graphic courtesy of U.S. District Court. 
 

 

Constellation Brands U.S. Operations Inc. has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against a Napa Valley winery for naming a wine “To Kalon.” New York-based Constellation filed the lawsuit after The Vineyard House released a wine under the protected mark “To Kalon,” according to the complaint filed Friday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Constellation said it owns the exclusive right to use the To Kalon mark to sell premium wines sold under the Robert Mondavi Winery brand, according to court records. Robert Mondavi Winery, which Constellation acquired in 2004, had owned the “To Kalon” mark since 1988 and the “To Kalon Vineyard” mark since 1994. The Vineyard House, owned by Jeremy Nickel, includes 17 acres of vineyard which the winery claims were part of Napa Valley pioneer winemaker Hamilton Walker Crabb’s To Kalon estate.

Constellation and The Vineyard House have been in court since last year over the name “To Kalon.”

The Vineyard House in 2019 sued Constellation in part to have the right to use “To Kalon” on its wine label and to prevent Constellation from using its “To Kalon” marks, according to court records. The Vineyard House argued “To Kalon” is a geographical location in the Napa Valley, according to court records. Those who own land that was part of the original estate should be all allowed to use that name, according to the winery. The Vineyard House sought a court order to have Constellation’s trademarks “To Kalon” and “To Kalon Vineyard” cancelled.

The Vineyard House has argued in court records that Constellation’s nearly 500 acres include acreage that was not part of Crabb’s historic To Kalon estate, according to the lawsuit for alleged unfair business practices, false advertising and other allegations. 

 U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers on Jan. 8 denied a preliminary injunction filed by The Vineyard House that would have prevented Constellation from selling wine under the label “To Kalon Vineyard Co.” Constellation also has denied The Vineyard House’s allegations.

“The injunction request filed by The Vineyard House presented inaccurate and meritless claims,” Constellation said in a statement Monday. “Constellation Brands owns the exclusive right to the To Kalon® and To Kalon Vineyard® trademarks and has acted in full compliance with all applicable laws and regulations, including our launch of To Kalon Vineyard Company, which produces wine sourced from Constellation’s To Kalon Vineyard. We remain committed to producing world-class wines with the highest degree of ethics and integrity, as we have done for more than 70 years,” according to the statement.

The Vineyard House said Hamilton Walker Crabb purchased about 240 acres in 1868 before he expanded his holdings to more than 500 acres, according to court records

Other property owners on To Kalon land include Beckstoffer Vineyards and The UC Davis Oakville Station. Beckstoffer Vineyards has a royalty-free agreement to use the “To Kalon” name for a limited number of cases, according to news reports. The agreement was part of a 2003 court settlement with the Robert Mondavi Winery.  


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